Too old to try something new?

My son does MMA (mixed martial arts) and I see him each week really working hard, getting stronger, feeling fitter and generally improving his fitness. His diet has improved, his attitude to school and life and people has improved and he has become my role model.

So… can I do MMA and reap the same benefits he does? Stop laughing (she’s says to herself)… I may be 53, unfit and overweight, but why the hell not! Surely this is perfect for me?

I went and tried….. and loved it! Well that was two days ago and I still ache but it’s a good ache to have – makes me realise I am alive and improving who I am physically and mentally. How many of us do this consciously?

How many times a day, a week, a month or a year do you sit and wish your life to be different? How many times do you look at yourself in the mirror and wish you could see someone different? How many days, weeks, months or years will you continue to do this and hope that it happens! Wake up people…. YOU have to make it happen. YOU have to grab life by the short and curlies and say “damn you, this is my life and it will be how I want it”. YOU have the right to be happy. YOU deserve to live every day as you want to live it and you have the right to love who you are whilst you live the life you have.

I get so tired of people blaming circumstance, blaming partners, or employers or any other external influence for what they have or what they don’t. If you really, really want life to change, you CAN change it. No it’s not easy. Yes it means sacrifice and change and living with uncomfortable, battling demons and maybe even walking away from all that no longer serves you, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

I am unfit, overweight and getting older. Some of that I have to accept, some I can influence and some I can change completely but the important thing to remember is that it is my responsibility to make it different. I made the decisions and choices and created the life I have and only I can make it different. I have people supporting me, loving me, cheering me on but ultimately it is down to me.

I have spent 7 years working on my mental health, my outlook on life, the words I speak and the thoughts I have. I have spent 7, sometimes hard and frustrating years, letting people in and letting people go. I have spent 7 wonderful, glorious and exciting years becoming the person I see and there are many years of work left. Now its time for the physical me to take centre stage so that I can become the person physically I like to look at, know that I am as healthy as I can be and to give myself a sense of pride that I am achieving physical goals and targets set. I WILL get that black belt and stand side by side with my son wearing his.

When you look at life, no matter how small or large the change you feel you want or need to make, you can do this IF you give yourself permission to try, take responsibility for your own life and have fun seeing the person inside come to life.

 

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When two oceans meet

How can you tell when two oceans meet? Is there a different motion? Is there an unusually strong power? Can you see a line or meeting point? Or is there just an unmistakable feeling that there is something bigger than the two involved at that moment?

It’s a bit like that with people isn’t it. Sometimes there are moments when two people come together and there is a certain something that says this is going to be powerful, beautiful, awe inspiring, huge and beyond description or identification. Sometimes, when two come together the force and explosion is so powerful it may well be the same as ocean meeting ocean.

This isn’t necessarily a physical relationship, although that can be immense; this could be a personal or business relationship where you know something exciting is going to happen. This is one of those “wow” moments where you may have no idea what is taking place as such, but you do know that whatever is going to be created will be amazing. They are rare but when two come together to create something new it can be life changing, explosive, unexplainably exciting.

Something low down in your gut is burning. Your breathing is quickened and a bit more laboured than usual. Your senses are way more heightened. Your eyes seem brighter, your skin flushed and the hairs in the back of your neck at standing to attention. This is something special and needs to be allowed to be born.

You have a choice as this can be pretty scary, especially if it’s something you haven’t experienced before. You can back away and find reasons not to see this through or you can dive right in and lose yourself in the moment, the experience, the journey. Which is it to be?

Like the lover you once had, you can almost taste the pleasure this is bringing to you, your world, your future. You can close your eyes and enjoy every moments pleasure or you can close yourself down from your emotional, spiritual and physical needs and decide the risk of being hurt or let down is too great. Guess which I’d pick every time?

So, when this other and you meet like two oceans crashing together, will you ride the waves or allow yourself to sink beneath them?

Is housework really therapy?

Hmmmm housework…. not my idea of pleasure and the ironing pile has to get to taking over a room status before I can bear to tackle it. But, yesterday I realised I could make this ‘me time’. Possibly not the spa or a massage but me time just the same.

How on earth can you make housework a pleasure and a therapy? By being in the moment and using it to your advantage I discovered today.

So I’d done breakfast and cleaned the kitchen, got the school run out of the way and there really is no avoiding this huge pile of clean clothes staring at me from the corner of the room. The wardrobe is empty, it has to be done…

Out came the ironing board and the iron and on went the music… I have known for a long long time that dancing whilst you iron makes it more manageable. I began and honestly after two shirts and a t-shirt I was already thinking of giving it up but then took a deep breath and focused on the dress – who in their right mind buys linen – it is a nightmare to make look half decent. Sorry I digress.

I began to look at the dress, the weave of the fabric, the memories of India and Greece woven in the fibres. I looked at the patterns the natural creases made, the texture and the colour and lost myself for a few minutes. It was fabulous. Onto the ironing board came a favourite top and again I made a conscious effort to really see the top, it’s colour, it’s texture and the memories entwined in it. The noise the steam made as it was released between the fibres. The heat absorbed by my fingers close to the irons metal plate. The movement of the iron and its hiss, slightly out of time with the beat of ELOs Mr Blue Sky playing in the background.

All of a sudden the pile of ironed clothes was higher than the un-ironed and I was genuinely enjoying this time and felt focussed, relaxed and quite chilled by the whole experience. Living in the moment I think is the marketing speak. It was quite beautiful.

When you take what you are doing and give it your total undivided attention, paying homage to the shape, size, texture, sound and movement of all you do, suddenly you find yourself absolutely in the moment. Suddenly the mundane brings a certain pleasure and peace with it. No frustration, no feelings of wasting time, just the simple pleasure of doing whatever it is you have to do thoroughly, with full attention and gaining a sense of being that is indulgently pleasurable.

So, next time you are faced with a task you see as daunting, terrible, boring and mundane or you just need some space in your head for nothing to sit in, give the task your focus, look really carefully; see it, feel it, hear it, and touch it in a way you haven’t done before and find the rest of the world is standing still, quietly waiting for you, until you are ready to join it once more.

Housework as therapy? Why not…

The answer is always yes

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it – say yes, then learn how to do it later. Richard Branson

I am not a huge fan of Richard Branson but some words he spouts resonate and these ones really do.

I have always had the mentality of say yes and work out how to do it later. It’s how I got my first job in London 30 years ago! Can you use a computer and this software? Yes of course! I got the job there and then and then spent the weekend learning the how. The joy of the 1980s.

Not suggesting anyone lies. That’s crossing one too many values for me. I do however, encourage a can do attitude. Why miss an opportunity to do something new, explore somewhere you’ve never been or live a life you’ve always dreamt of, just because you don’t know how to achieve it?

When someone said to me yesterday “shall we do a workshop together”, neither of us knowing what this will be, of course the answer was yes. We both know we have something to give, something to create and our guts and that little bit of excitement that ran round our bellies as we said this, were enough to decide to create something beautiful.

Yes. That is enough to begin.

What is your dream? What do you want to create? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? When are you finally going to just say yes?

You are already enough, so say yes and work out how later. The universe she listens. The universe hears that yes. The universe has your back and will co-create what is meant to be.

When there is too much day…

“What day is it today? Today. Ahh, my favourite day. Yesterday, when it was tomorrow, it was too much day for me. Winnie the Pooh (and Piglet)

Do you ever have those days when there is simply too much day to cope with? Horrible isn’t it? You simply don’t know which way to turn, what to do or not do and every single thing you have to do or decision you have to make, seems to swamp you, sit on your chest, eek into your pores and totally overwhelm you.

So what do you do?

If you ask people around you, even loved ones, they may tell you to just stop and pull yourself together. They may tell you to take it easy as it will all get done. They may tell you something like “tomorrow will be a better day”. They may get cross with your inability to manage things and you row. They may choose to pretend they can’t see you are in trouble, as they simply don’t know what the hell to do with or for you anymore.

So what do you do?

You make an appointment to go to see the GP! That seems the best option – they are the professional after all. It also means you are being proactive and positive doesn’t it? If you get past the receptionist, who seems to want everything down to your inside leg measurement and all the gory details, just to tell you that you can have an appointment two weeks on Tuesday; you get told you are probably over tired, have depression, are stressed – here take these pills and see me in a month. You are once again left alone to manage.

Now, yes I am being harsh here and this is (thankfully) not always the case and I can honestly say I have never experienced this , but I speak every day to people who do.

So what do you do?

You struggle along, you take your pills and then you have a bright idea – I know I will just paint this smile on and tell everyone I am okay – eventually that will make me feel better I am sure! So you do. You smile. You are the life and soul of the party. You are everyone in the offices little ray of sunshine. You get home exhausted. You do it all again the next day. This, my beautiful friend, is not sustainable. This, my beautiful friend, is called a sticking plaster and you have a great big wound that needs stitches and possibly major surgery. This, my beautiful friend, cannot and will not be a solution.

So what do you do?

The day is too long. The day is too much. You are becoming a burden. You know the world is better off without you. You hurt so much all you want to do is take the pain away. You are no longer actually thinking straight; in fact you are no longer thinking at all. When you do this the silence will begin. When you do this the constant heaviness and pain will stop. When you do this it will all be over. True…. for you anyway.

So what do you do?

The answer? There is no actual answer that anyone can pull out of a bag and give you to make this all better BUT, there is choice, possibility, opportunity, support availability, friendship, loved ones, and good old fashioned love (for yourself as much as anyone). You simply need to talk; know today is really just today and can become tomorrow; and there are people to want to, can and will, support you through this. To find out what and how and when, ALL you have to do it take a deep breath and speak up.

I am listening…. and there is plenty of today left to ensure tomorrow has a beautiful sunrise.

 

Back to the Beginning

Discovery is a beautiful thing. Exploration. Excitement. Adventure. You may or may not like the outcome but the journey will always hold the excitement. I am in some ways going back to the beginning and I can’t wait to see what it all brings.

Letting go of your past when it doesn’t serve you anymore is vital. Hard but vital. This seems to somehow make space for the new, the fresh, the adventure you have been waiting or hoping for. All you have to do is choose it.

When you face the past and it could also somehow be part of your future, it is a strange thing. All those things you thought you knew are gone and yet still there (in history and memory) and what stands before you is a blank canvas and the painting you create is yours. What will it look like and will the masterpiece ever be finished or will it be an ever changing being?

Take a look at where you are…. Have you let go? Do you need to? Do you want to stop and start afresh? What is stopping you? Are these things blocks and excuses or real? Do you want that “new” enough to fight for it? Fear of failure? What’s to lose – the past has already gone.

One of my favourite quotes “What is I fall? My darling, what if you fly?” springs to mind as I write and oh how true it is. If you never try, you never win. If you never change, you will always be the same. If you never give love and life a chance to surprise you….

I am standing with my back to the past as it no longer serves me – I have grown, learnt from it and love who I have become and now it is time to go on some adventures and explore the world I have begun to create. What you doing today?

 

The Call of the Wild

Go out into the world and do something wild, creative and different from your usual!

As you can see from the photo above I sat for a very talented friend this week as she completed a body art assessment at college. I love all that is creative and I love having my makeup done so I thought why not – I can spare her a couple of hours… but never, ever did I expect to have such a rush from doing it.

To watch her creativity unfold from paints in a box, a bit of hair gel and some feathery lashes into something so very beautiful was a privilege I won’t easily forget. To see her paint me, as an artist would paint a canvas, to feel the gentle and relaxing strokes of the brushes on my skin, and to see the end result, so magnificent, so stunning, so grand, totally blew me away. All I did was gave her my time – she gave me so much more. She made me feel beautiful, confident, taller some how and proud to say I knew this talented lady and she was my friend.

Sometimes we just need to be told to step up and step out and try no matter how uncomfortable, how different or how scary it is. Just Do It!

We can find ourselves at a point in our lives when, if we don’t do something different, our lives will never, ever be different and we will become stagnant, tired, bored or possibly depressed. We all know the phrase “if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got” – Henry Ford, and yet we still do the same thing, day in and day out expecting the end result to be different.

Wake up! Life is short. Live a little!

What’s to lose? If you don’t like the experience, try a different one until you find what makes your heart sing. If you love it….. you have lived and will be all the better for it. We don’t all want to save the planet, climb Mount Everest, or go round the world backwards in a dinghy: some of us just want to laugh where we don’t normally, experience something new that creates a buzz inside, have time to read a book without interruption, walk in the countryside with a friend and talk over old times and new plans or just do something for fun, with no end result or aim. Most of us just want to be happy and yet….

…and yet we find reason not to do it. I’ll do it tomorrow, next week, next year…. and when that time comes, you will find another reason to delay it.

Do you ever watch a programme or read a book or watch a film and say to yourself “I would love to have a go at that”? Think about it. Hold that thought. How does it make you feel inside. Can you feel the excitement in your stomach; maybe it gives you butterflies; maybe your heart just missed a beat; maybe, just maybe, you can have that feeling for real.

You can step out of your safety zone, away from the parts of you that you know with your eyes closed and dare to dream. You can realise an ambition if you really want to do it. You will find obstacles and yet, if you really want it, you will find a way to pass them by. You CAN do this – you just have to dream, commit and do. If it’s a big dream maybe more planning, more time, more financial requirements are needed but what is stopping you beginning? From the smallest acorns…..

If it’s a new business venture, believe me it’s worth the work and effort and planning to be able to see your dream become reality. If it’s a new role or change in career, it will test your courage and you will hear the nay sayers, “you can’t do that, what if it goes wrong, how can you give up what you have”…. let them whisper in the darkness – it’s your choice whether or not you listen. You will find road blocks and have to change your plans to get round them or you may have to u-turn BUT the call of the wild is in you and you can’t ignore it any longer. Listen to it and live.

 

 

 

The Unconscious Worrier and The Conscious Warrior

How many times do you find yourself unfocused, not really present or just generally distracted but you can’t quite put your finger on it?

How many of you put your warrior head on and battle through your day, your week and your life?

I get you….

This last ten days I realise I have been unfocused; physically present but just skimming the surface of reality and knowing I was watching life but not quite able to join in.

When it came to the crunch though, the day arrived where I had to face the world, it couldn’t be avoided and I put on my invisible armour and got on with it.

So there’s a lump. Not where I thought and way bigger than I expected. How do I feel? Actually okay. Not good. Not bad. Not scared. Not worried. Actually grateful that I haven’t wasted the time of the people caring for me this morning.

Wasting the time of the nursing staff. That worried me more than anything. Our NHS system is stretched enough. Is that why we don’t go to see our GP? In case we are just adding to the current overload? Or is that just an excuse because we we bloody scared about what they will find.

Now I have a lump. So now they have to squeeze, scan, take pictures, stick me with needles and tell me results.

But, I discovered, all is well. It’s just a cyst and that was easily dealt with. Did I sigh with relief? Yes of course I did and thankfully I will not have to have the conversations with those I love that I’d had in my head, so the day suddenly feels a bit different.

If you have a lump or a pain or an ache or something just doesn’t look or feel right, don’t tell yourself the doctor or the nurses are overwhelmed and you don’t want to make it worse; don’t avoid getting checked because you don’t know how you’d cope; don’t think it will go away – it really won’t; take a breath, make that call, just say what’s wrong and allow the professional to do the diagnosing.

Last week I had a lump and a phone call to make and I was uncomfortable and scared. All week my unconscious worrier sat below the surface and niggled my thoughts, never allowing me to worry enough that it was obvious, but making it difficult for me to do anything constructively. But today I had to consciously become the warrior and get through the day. The warrior found it was just a cyst and with a sense of relief took a breath but one, whilst looking around the consultation room, hoping all the others were breathing again too.

Just waiting…

So I’m sat in the hospital just waiting. It’s filled with people coming and going. Scared, nervous, anxious, holding their breath, talking, keeping silent, crying. There is a cool, clean efficiency about the place and it’s quite comforting in its cleansed way.

No idea what is to come. The journey here itself was okay but the parking would leave the most patient of people cursing. Naturally I ended up on opposite side of the hospital to where I needed to be, but the exercise of the sprint I then had to make to ensure I was on time, did me good.

I ache. I’m tired as yesterday was a really long day. And I have to admit I’m a little bit anxious. Fear of the unknown I guess.

It will be fine. This is just to check and reassure. This is nothing to worry about. I will be fine. I can hear that and I can say it and hopefully if I say it enough in the next few minutes I will begin to believe.

As usual I came alone. Not because no one cares and no one offered, but because I am me and cannot accept help all that well. I am getting better but the strong, independent, bloodyminded woman still prevails sometimes. This is just a checkup after all. I didn’t share with many that I am even here. Why worry people unnecessarily and why make molehills into mountains. There’s time for telling if people need to know, later.

So why am I here? Maybe fate. Maybe the universe is testing me. Maybe it’s learning or maybe it’s for me to share with others. Maybe it’s my past catching up with me. Maybe it’s just because…

So I’m sat in the hospital, still waiting…

The Fleshy Kintsugi

“How many times do I have to tell you that even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too.”

We struggle to love ourselves sometimes, especially when we feel flawed. Whether that be a visual flaw or just something inside that makes us feel like we aren’t working as we should. When it is pointed out by others it is even more pronounced in our own heads. We believe what people say, and what people say we see as negative.

I was recently described as “fleshy”. Oh thanks…. I’m fat am I? I was very insulted but deep down I knew what they said was true – I am fleshy. I have curves, I have excess fleshy bits and I am never going to be a size 8 stick-like woman. As I thought about it (as you do when someone points out a “flaw”), I realised that actually all that was true so I went back to that person and asked what they saw when they said fleshy…. I needed to know even though I wasn’t going to like what I heard.

They were sad when they thought I had taken it as an insult. They had not meant it that way. To them, fleshy was beautiful, it was curvy, it was not a size 8 as they don’t think women should be skinny, it was who they saw when they looked at me. It made me stop in my tracks and think about the whole body image discussion we have internally and through the media. It made me realise, whilst I thought I was comfortable in my own skin, I am still battling with how I should look, versus how I actually look, versus how others see me, versus loving all of me as I am.

Yes there is weight to lose, I guess we all carry some that we can get rid of if we made the effort, but seeing myself as beautiful instead of seeing the faults is really important. I have learnt to love the inside me, the person with the faulty mind and yet I have omitted to fully love the outer covering. It is time to fix that and make the effort to change the bit that is a health issue, but love the outer covering of this mind and soul I have been gifted with.

Take a look at you and ask yourself what would feel like an insult to you if someone said it. Would it be about your weight? Would it be how tall or short you are? Would it be that parts of you are too big or too small? Would it be that you are too angry, too nice, too loud, too quiet…. the list is endless, but you will know. The second I asked the question, your “fleshy” word would have popped into your mind and you will have immediately focused on what you think is a weak spot for you.

So look again… think about it through the day…. is it really an insult or is it who you are and what makes you who you are? Find its positive or at least look on it with acceptance that it is part of a very special human being. For you it is a fault; for someone else it is a beautiful feature. Love it. Like the Chinese artwork (Kintsugi – where they take a broken bowl and mend it using gold to create a beautiful new object out of what was fundamentally flawed and for the bin), and take your thoughts and use them as the seam of gold and create something beautiful with the flaws you see.